Rule Update

I have just updated rule #7 regarding mandatory gear. From the 2019 edition onwards it is a requirement that all ultra distance athletes carry vacuum-insulated bottles with a combined volume of at least 3 litres. If you prepare yourself for the MYAU you will quickly find out that hydration is very essential. Not drinking enough comes with many risks, one of these being higher chances of getting frostbite and/or hypothermia.

Please do not mistake this for a recommendation as to how much you need to drink per day. As a matter of fact if you are moving almost all day you will need significantly more to drink in 24 hours than just 3 litres. So, you need to work out a strategy and this may well mean to actually take 5 or 6 litres of liquid along on the trail. Maybe all of it in vacuum-insulated bottles, maybe a mixture of 3 litres in vacuum-insultated bottles and the rest in an insulated hydration bladder. And there are other options for more volume like insulated Nalgene bottles or similar. Another thing to factor in is your willingness to stop and melt snow or ice. If you are happy to do that you need to have less hot drinks with you. But of course you need to consider the chances of a stove failure (which then means you need to build a wood fire). And even if technology does not fail, operating a stove in extremely cold temperatures in itself can be dangerous, not to mention time consuming. Last but not least, you do of course have the checkpoints where you can (re-)hydrate and get as much hot water for on the go as you want. Here I want to mention that chances are, sometimes your timing is off and you need more time to get to a checkpoint than you had planned. Which means you may end up needing more water between two checkpoints than you had expected.

Be prepared, play it safe and do not risk getting dehydrated. It is probably one of the top reasons for people to be faced with a DNF.

Driving Force to provide rental vehicles

We are very lucky to get the support of some great local companies. Driving Force is one of them. Pretty much since the existence of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra they have been providing us with rental vehicles. In 2019 they will be supporting us again.

Driving Force offer great service and vehicles of all types in perfect condition. Both is super important especially when leaving Whitehorse to go on some longer drives.

They also offer a 10% discount to athletes and friends and family members who may be with them in the Yukon. Athletes who pre- and post-race prefer to stay in Whitehorse do not need a rental vehicle for their logistics. However, anybody who wants to leave the downtown area or to follow the race will need a vehicle.

If you are interested, please use the following contact to make your reservation:

Nikita Hryniuk
Rental Manager
Phone: 867-668-2137 Ext:7343

There is no booking code to get the 10% discount. When you make your reservation please just mention that you are with the MYAU and would like to make use of the promotion.

Total North – our partner for satellite communication

Total North will be our partner for satellite communication at the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2019. For years this local specialist company has been providing satellite phones for our crew and it’s great to have them on board once again.

Whilst in Whitehorse and places like Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Dawson City cell phones work just fine. However, in between there is no cell phone coverage. So, for a race like the MYAU there is no way around using sat phones for communcating from trail or remote checkpoint to race HQ. It is vital for the overall race safety and great to be able to count on the reliable phones and perfect service provided by Total North.

Total North also rent out to athletes. And I strongly recommend any athlete doing an ultra distance to have a sat phone. The SPOT is great for communicating a status but all we get is a “Help”, “Okay” or “911”. A race participant will not be able to get across any further details using a Generation 3 SPOT. Here a sat phone can not only be a back-up (in case the SPOT fails) but you can actually tell race HQ exactly what is going on.

If you want to rent a sat phone please find the form here:

Sat Phone Rental Form – Total North

With the MYAU and Yukon Quest both leaving from Whitehorse and plenty of athletes on the race roster I do recommend you reserve your phone rather sooner than later.

And please remember, anything that runs with batteries can fail! This is also true for sat phones. So, your number one goal needs to be to stay out of trouble in order to not have to rely on any battery powered technology.

Update on Training Courses

I updated the information on training courses you can take in the Yukon to prepare yourself for the MYAU.

Once again next year there is the course that is organized by Jo and Stewart Stirling. This course will take place for the third time and it is based at Scuttlebutt Lodge, just a few miles away from our 100 mile finish line at Braeburn Lodge. The timing of this 4-day course allows athletes to participate in it and then do the race right afterwards.

The second course is organized by Shelley Gellatly and she has got the support of friends like Jessie Thomson-Gladish and Gillian Smith. This course is now also 4 days long, has got the same timeline and also takes place just before the race. It will be based at the Takhini Hot Springs Hostel.

The reason why there now are two multi-day courses is simple. For a course to be really good, the number of participants needs to be limited. Due to high demand it made sense to have two possible and more extensive courses. That way there should be enough training capacity and we won’t have to turn anybody away who wants to sign up but does not have sufficient experience, yet.

Both courses are also open to athletes who want to participate in other cold weather races. Of course it is possible to come to the Yukon and do a course one year and participate in the MYAU in another year. In case you prefer to do it in two trips.

For more information on the courses please go to the Training Courses info section.

Books to read

As part of preparing for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra it makes sense to read books about cold weather races and adventures. There are some books that actually deal with the MYAU itself. In our facebook group I asked what books people found useful in their preparations. The suggestions that were made are now featured in our FAQ section.

MYAU 2019 to take place from February 3rd – 16th

As you may already have noticed I have stared to update the website with details for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2019. The race will start February 3rd in Whitehorse. That is one day after the Yukon Quest dog teams leave the capital of the Yukon to head north.

Next year we will have our 430 mile distance again. It has a time limit of 13 days. So, the total time for the race and its maximum distance is until February 16th. The other distances offered will be marathon, 100 and 300 miles.

Some things on the website still need updating. That will all be done over the next week. Parallel I am working on the Application & Waiver. For those of you who already contacted me, I will send it out once it is ready.

Anybody interested in participating, please email or phone me. As always the entry fees will go up in two steps. Therefore, if you know for sure you want to participate, it makes sense to sign up before the end of May as the cost will go up afterwards and then again after the end of August.

Donation for Little Footprints, Big Steps

The MYAU marathon participants ran approximately 780 km this year. As promised, per km 1 CAD goes to Little Footprints, Big Steps. I have rounded up the total and just made a donation of CAD 1,000. I am sure Morgan and her team can do many useful things with this money. Thank you to all marathoners for contributing with your great effort on February 1st!

Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2018 final report

Well, where should I start with my final report after a race like this? It is the same procedure as every year I guess, by me saying: “Every MYAU is different and once again we faced new challenges and situations we have not been faced with before”. We had cold temperatures before but this constant cold of – 35 to – 45 degrees Celsius, that was new. No time to relax a little bit. Athletes constantly had to really focus on all aspects involved when trying to stay warm. On day 1 things looked very good. All except one marathon runner finished. And that is quite something! A marathon in these temperatures, with only hot water or tea at the half way mark and self sufficiency on food. That is a big time achievement. So, congratulations to all participants! Like last year 1 CAD per km run will be to the charity Little Footprints. Big Steps.
The ultra athletes all looked good at the marathon finish which premiered at Muktuk Adventures. Pure luxury for the athletes who were actually allowed to go inside a warm building and eat and drink there. In past years we were at Rivendell Farm, a great place, too. However, going inside was not possible. Once again thank you to the entire Muktuk Adventure team for hosting us and making it such a great experience.
It was the first night when the problems began for some. Especially the cold areas just off the Takhini River hurt our participants. Unfortunately, that night also brought us the first cases of frostbite. And it is so difficult to imagine how quickly this happens if you have not been in this kind of cold before. One wrong decision and it hits you before you know it. Temperatures got so cold that we were experiencing difficulties with machinery. Generators broke, ski-doos did not start and with cars/trucks it was not much easier. When we knew that going on the trail would be impossible for the guides, the race came to a halt. Once all repairs were taken care of, we continued. Unfortunately, on the way to Dog Grave Lake and Braeburn, many athletes had to scratch. Our 100 mile race saw 4 finisher and they all arrived looking good. Congratulations to Emanuele Gallo (Italy), Peter Mild (Sweden), Tomas Jelinek (Germany) and Michelle Smith (UK)!
For the 300 milers the suffering continued. Night after night is was extremely cold. I think a very important message was sent by Frode  Lein (Norway) and Asbjorn Bruun (Denmark) when they slowed right down after Braeburn to stay hydrated and dry. It meant that they had no more chance to make the Carmacks cut-off. But sometimes the MYAU turns more into an expedition during which survival really has to be the priority. Yes, a DNF is never easy to accept but if it helps to avoid cold injuries, it’s the better option. Of course that is easier said than done. Almost everything has to be in one’s favour in order to avoid frostbite in these temperatures. Perfect gear, knowing how to use it, changing layers, keeping dry, hydrating and eating, resting and so on. It all has to come together. Like some athletes said, it becomes a process of “continuous problem solving”.
Pretty soon we had only 3 athletes left in the 300 mile race. Jethro de Decker from South Africa, Ilona Gyapay from Canada and Roberto Zanda from Italy. All of them were going strong and looked good when leaving Carmacks. Unfortunately, Roberto got into trouble about half way to McCabe. He was rescued to safety and I would like to thank the entire team, especially Glenn and Spencer Toovey who were out there, found him and did everything right. Also a big thank you to Jo and Diane who helped me with the co-ordination of the rescue. Furthermore, thank you to the RCMP, EMS, helicopter crew and the hospital staff in Whitehorse. I visited Roberto today and he is on his way to recovery. He actually said that he wants to be back!
Jethro had already left for Pelly Farm, when Ilona arrived in Pelly Crossing. Finally, frostbite had gotten a hold of her fingertips, too. Being a xc-skier in the Northwest Territories she was not surprised. She had been more afraid for her feet but these were fine. Nonetheless, her race was over. Her achievement is incredible, though. I have never seen a xc-skier move this fast on the Quest trail. Maybe Enrico Ghidoni but I would have to compare the times to be sure. Jethro in the meantime just kept on going. All smiles and somehow immune to the cold. It has to be said that Jethro had been here before. He participated in Stewart’s survival course and learned some valuable lessons the first time around. This time he got it all down to an art and finished in Pelly Farm. I am positive he could have easily gone back to Pelly Crossing but we did decide to stop the 300 miles at the farm. Congratulations Jethro for getting this far in these kind of conditions!
Thank you to all athletes for having come to the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2018. I hope to see you all again – be it in the Yukon or another ultra adventure!
Thank you to this great crew – on the trail and at the checkpoints! Diane, Julie, Jo, Anja, Martine, Medina, Tania, Branka, Shelley, Richard, Peter, Gavin , Tom, James, Pamela, Stewart, Gary (Young), Gary (Vantell) and Gary (Rusnak), Josh, Joe, Glenn, Spencer, Tony, Robert and Ross. Thank you also to Gillian, Bernard and Hector who took care of the Ken Lake checkpoint.
Thank you to our sponsors Montane, Primus, Yukon Tourism and the many local supporters like Muktuk Adventures, Braeburn Lodge, Carmacks Rec Centre, Kruse family, Selkirk First Nations, Sue and Dale from Pelly Farm, Coast Mountain Sports, Fraserway, Driving Force, Coast High Country Inn,  Total North and Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Jethro de Decker is our winner

Jethro De Decker arrived at Pelly Farm 03:45 this morning. He is perfectly fine and could have easily gone back to Pelly Crossing. However, we decided to make the farm our finish line. This means Jethro is our one and only finisher for the longest distance.

Ilona had also reached Pelly Crossing later last night. She had impressed us with her incredible skills on xc-skis and I will be honest, I never thought it was possible to move this fast with xc-skis on the trail we have (this is not a xc-ski track!) and in these kind of temperatures. I guess it did help that Ilona is from the Northwest Territories. So, she knew exactly what to expect. However, even to her the frostbite caught up on this last stretch and she had to stop. She herself was very surprised that it was actually her fingertips and not her toes where she was expecting it more to happen.

In the meantime, Roberto Zanda had to be brought to hospital. His frostbite is more severe and he will get treatment for several days. So far I have no further news. I am not sure if I can talk to him today. If it is possible and he want to let everyone know how he is doing I will share it with all of you.

It was a tough year. For the athletes and the crew. Later on today I will write a longer statement/summary. An important part of my summary will be my thoughts on the many cases of frostbite we have had this year. I would like to invite all this year’s participants to share their thoughts with me and everybody else following us here or on facebook. I will likely get a lot of questions in the next few days as to why we do what we do, what we thing about this extreme cold and so on? And I can of course only guess what you, the athletes, think. Some feedback I already got and it was very positive. But I have not spoken to everyone. If you want you can email me or send a private message on facebook.